Deputy Secretary John Porcari
Remarks as prepared for delivery
March 12, 2013
Thank you for the introduction, Misty [Casto, NADO Moderator]. It’s great to be here today with all of you.
Before I get into all of the great things happening at DOT, I want to touch on a topic I know many of you are interested in: the impact of sequestration.
Sequestration went into effect earlier this month, and it’s going to have a serious impact on the transportation services that are critical to the traveling public, your communities, and our national economy.
At DOT, we need to cut nearly a billion dollars.
Over $600 million of those cuts will need to come from the Federal Aviation Administration.
And as a result of these cuts, the vast majority of the FAA’s nearly 47,000 employees could be furloughed for one day per pay period until the end of the fiscal year.
With fewer controllers on the job, flights to major cities like New York, Chicago, and San Francisco could experience delays of up to 90 minutes during peak hours.
And delays at these major airports will cause delays to ripple out to airports around the country.
We'll likely have to close over 100 air traffic control towers at small airports in places like Boca Raton, Joplin, and Hilton Head.
These closures will impact services for commercial, general aviation, and military aircraft.
These are harmful cuts, with real world consequences that will cost jobs and hurt our economy.
The President has put forward a solution to avoid these cuts, and we need Congress to come together to work on a long-term, balanced solution to our deficit challenges.
The fact is, now is the time to be investing in transportation.
When I first took this job, we had a lot of challenges ahead of us.
Our country faced the worst economic crisis in a generation, and our infrastructure was in desperate need of repair.
But President Obama, Secretary LaHood, and the entire Administration were committed to investing in an America built to last.
And over the last four years, we’ve made unprecedented investments in our infrastructure, putting people to work on our roads and bridges, runways and railways.
Between the Recovery Act and core infrastructure funds, we’ve improved over 350,000 miles of U.S. roads, and we’ve repaired or replaced over 20,000 bridges.
Across the country, we’ve invested in critical transit systems that connect people with jobs, schools and other vital services.
Our New Starts program alone has signed construction agreements for more than 40 major new transit projects in 16 states over the last four years – including light rail, commuter rail, and bus rapid transit systems.
Since the launch of our popular TIGER program in 2009, we’ve invested $3.1 billion in 218 innovative projects in all fifty states – projects that emphasize livable, sustainable, and multimodal solutions to regional transportation challenges.
This includes over $525 million for projects in 80 rural areas in 37 different states.
Under President Obama’s leadership, we’ve awarded over $12 billion to high-speed rail projects.
We’ve helped communities build or improve more than 6,000 miles of rail and 40 train stations nationwide.
We’ve approved almost $1 billion in loans to finance the development of our national rail infrastructure through our Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing program.
And thanks to DOT’s Buy America program, these transportation investments are supporting an entire supply chain of American companies and their employees.
As we look ahead, it’s important that we continue to invest in transportation projects that create jobs and promote long-term economic growth.
In his State of the Union address last month, President Obama called on us to reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth – a rising, thriving middle class.
And as you all know, investing in transportation is a great way to reignite that engine.
Through transportation investments, we can make America a magnet for jobs and manufacturing.
And we can build a 21st century transportation network that helps our economy grow.
President Obama has proposed a “Fix It First” program to focus on our most urgent infrastructure repairs, and a Partnership to Rebuild America that would attract private investments for much-needed projects.
And with our new transportation bill, MAP-21, we’ll continue putting Americans to work building the transportation infrastructure we need to succeed in the 21st century.
MAP-21 provides states and communities with two years of steady funding and the certainty they need to invest in critical road, bridge and transit projects.
It includes $81 billion for highways and $21 billion for transit capital investments.
It ensures the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund for the next two years.
And it offers significant opportunities to continue strengthening the regional transportation planning and construction process, using innovative programs like Every Day Counts and the TIFIA loan program to stretch every dollar farther.
In the coming months, we’ll be working closely with stakeholders like you to establish measurements that will assess the performance of our national transportation system in areas like safety, freight movement, infrastructure condition, and congestion reduction.
We want to know how you’re measuring the performance of your local and regional transportation systems – and how different proposals for measuring performance might impact your priorities.
The truth is, we can do more when we work together.
It’s the philosophy that’s defined our work at DOT during the Obama Administration, and it’s the philosophy that defines so much of the work you do.
Let’s face it: we all sink or swim as a region.
Your competition isn’t the central city, the suburbs or exurbs – it’s other regions around the world.
Transportation needs don’t end at the city limit, county line, or even state line – and transportation planning must take these realities into consideration.
DOT is proud to call you our partners.
And we’re committed to working with you – and all of our partners at the federal, state, regional, and local level.
Together, we’ll build a transportation system that meets our needs;
A transportation system that helps small business grow and encourages private investment;
A transportation system that is the envy of the world.